Dhaka: Rescue divers on Saturday pulled out 12 more bodies from a ferry that sank near the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka with around 100 people aboard, raising the death toll from the latest boat disaster to 14.
The small vessel was ferrying passengers Friday on the Meghna river, close to the town of Gazaria in the central Munshiganj district, when it collided with a barge laden with sand to be used for construction.
While some passengers managed to swim to safety as the wooden boat went down rapidly, many others remain unaccounted for, according to officials involved in the rescue effort.
Our correspondent adds:
Scores of people were still feared missing late Friday after a passenger ferry carrying 100 passengers on board sank after colliding with sand-laden vessel at suburban Munshiganj district in central Bangladesh.
Officials and police officials said about many passengers managed to swim ashore or rescued by nearby fishing boats while searches were underway for find those missing.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) officials said they located sunken MV Sarash at the midpoint of the Meghna River at Gazaria area of Munshiganj.
“Few bodies have been retrieved but rescue operation is underway with the help of fire service divers and local volunteers to search more bodies,” deputy commissioner or administrative chief of Munshiganj Mohammad Saiful Islam Badal told Gulf News over the phone.
Badal, however, said some 30 people could be missing as others swam to safety or were rescued.
“Our salvage vessel Rustom located the sunken launch [ferry] . . . bodies believed to be trapped inside it could be recovered after it is retrieved,” a BIWTA official told newsmen.
Witnesses said ferry was carrying passengers from the capital Dhaka to the southeastern district Chandpur when the accident took place.
Hundreds of distraught relatives gathered on both sides of the river, anxiously waiting to know the fate of their loved ones while one of the survivors said the missing people included an extended family of 17 who were going to attend a relative’s funeral.
Television footage showed a 12-year-old boy, Omar Faruk, saying he could not find his mother.
Unregulated and overcrowded ferries often run into trouble on rivers in Bangladesh, criss-crossed by nearly 300 rivers. Most of these accidents happen during the monsoon season due to storms or rough and swollen rivers. Officials said nearly 90 of the country’s thousands of small and medium-sized boats lacked safety standards.
Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, a delta nation of 153 million people, and it is frequently unclear how many people are aboard the often overcrowded vessels.
-With inputs from AFP